The Camas High School football players and coaches never lost hope, but the Skyline Spartans made all the right plays in a 35-10 victory Saturday in Sammamish.
“We never quit. We left everything we had right here,” said Camas head coach Jon Eagle. “It wasn’t one of our best games, but the heart and passion was there on every play. We moved the ball, we just couldn’t finish our drives.”
The Spartans brought those drives to an end with four interceptions. Timely first downs also helped them score 29 straight points after the Papermakers kicked a field goal in the first quarter.
Camas quarterback Liam Fitzgerald completed 24 passes for 304 yards. Wide receiver Jared Bentley made 13 catches for 202 yards. The dynamic duo connected on a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
After the Papermakers turned the ball over on downs to begin the game, the Spartans only needed two plays to score a touchdown. It came on a 49-yard pass from Blake Gregory to Luke Stiles. A bad snap prevented Skyline from kicking the extra point.
Camas gained four consecutive first downs before the drive stalled on the 20-yard line. Caleb Lightbourn nailed a 37-yard field goal to bring the Papermakers within three.
Skyline responded with a kick off return for a touchdown. Logan Wanamaker carried the ball 99 yards to the end zone on the other side.
The Papermakers pushed right back and earned a first and goal, but the Spartans sacked Fitzgerald on third down. Camas set up for another field goal, but the kick sailed wide.
Tackles by Jarrin Webb and David Aarhus helped the Papermakers get the ball back. Camas couldn’t gain any ground and had to punt it away. Skyline then put together a 90-yard drive to the end zone and had a 21-3 lead at halftime.
The Spartans started the second half with the ball. Aarhus flushed out a reverse run for a loss of two yards, but then Skyline ran the ball right up the middle for a first down. Aarhus got to the ball handler again for a loss of four yards. The Spartans countered with a long pass for a first down to the Camas 20.
The Papermakers dug deeper. Blake Roy and Michael Matthews brought the Skyline quarterback down for a loss of 10 yards. Luke Grindy then sacked the quarterback to force a punt.
Camas was held to fourth and one, and punted the ball back to the Spartans. Skyline drove down the field again and scored a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Spartans picked off a pass and returned it to the Camas 23. This set up another touchdown that gave Skyline a comfortable 35-3 lead.
The Papermakers didn’t roll over. Bentley caught a short pass from Fitzgerald and sprinted 55 yards down the field to energize the Camas sideline. Fitzgerald led Bentley into the end zone one last time to give the Papermakers some satisfaction.
“It did feel good to get one in there and not just leave a three up in the board,” Roy said. “I love these guys with my whole heart. I wouldn’t trade these last four years with them for anything.”
After the game, Eagle thanked the players for their dedication. It goes well beyond the games to practice time, weight lifting and film study.
“There’s a special place in my heart for the guys who put so much time in,” Eagle said. “These things don’t happen unless they do that.”
Alex Davis is an example of a Papermaker who paid his dues. He rose up from the practice squad as a freshman to earn a starting spot on the offensive line as a senior.
“It was a grind,” Davis said. “No matter how bad you hurt, or good or bad you felt, you always had to bring the energy. You had to be able to look at the guy next to you and trust him.”
All of the hard work paid off for Davis and the Papermakers. They are just the fifth football team from Camas to reach the elite eight in the state.
“Only four teams have done it before them,” Eagle said. “They will go down as one of the all-time great teams in Camas.”